Oral cancer has been on the rise for several decades. For years we assumed it mostly occurred only if you had a family history, poor nutrition or were a tobacco user. Today we understand that even the healthiest of us can get oral cancer. The most common cause of oral cancer is a virus that 95% of adults have been exposed to. The good news about oral cancer is that if detected early, most forms respond very well to treatment.
There are two keys in the battle against oral cancer: Prevention and early detection. The virus that causes most oral cancers is the human papilloma virus (HPV) and can be prevented with a vaccine. Children and teens today should be vaccinated against the HPV virus.
After vaccination the most important thing we can do is increase early detection. At your dental exam and professional cleaning appointments we will complete an oral cancer screening.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer strikes three times as many victims as cervical cancer. It is one of the few types of cancer that has not seen a significant reduction over the past thirty years. Recent research has shown a strong association with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can be sexually transmitted. For this reason, many oral health care professionals now believe that all individuals over the age of 18 should have at least an annual comprehensive oral examination and ideally at every dental hygiene visit.
At Desert Sun Smiles we utilize both a traditional oral cancer screening, but also incorporate the VELscope System®. The VELscope® emits a safe blue light that reflects off abnormal cells to help disclose areas of concern. Oral cancer is typically discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate is only 22%. If detected in early stages, however, the five-year survival rate is significantly higher. The VELscope® System also helps discover abnormal growths before they become cancerous.
The FDA and Health Canada have endorsed the VELscope® System for assisting dentists and hygienists in discovering cancerous or precancerous growths that may not be apparent to the naked eye. A screening with the VELscope® System adds only a few minutes to a conventional examination and is completely comfortable.
What if a suspicious area is detected?
If a suspicious area is detected during your oral cancer screening, the next step is a simple brush sample using OralCDX. The test involves using a small brush to collect a sample of cells for computer-assisted laboratory analysis. Typically, unhealthy cells take years before they can cause any harm. During this time, the spot can typically be removed, long before oral cancer occurs. OralCDX has been proven to be accurate in large published clinical studies and has earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.